See earlier: Announcing the VDARE.com Book Club! This month, we’re featuring Our Borders, Ourselves: America in the Age of Multiculturalism as our book club read. By subscribing to the book club, you receive exclusive content including discussion questions, further reading suggestions, and party ideas compiled by James Kirkpatrick & the VDARE Team. SIGN UP HERE and be entered to win the next featured title!
I never met Sam Francis, I never met Joe Sobran, but I was lucky enough to meet Lawrence Auster. In truth, I had misgivings beforehand. I had heard he was difficult, prickly, and argumentative. However, the man I met in New York City, not long before he died in 2013, was gracious, charming, and gave the impression that he was completely focused on what you were saying—before he responded with something that demanded your absolute attention. Nothing he said was one-off: It was part of a worldview, each part depending on another. It was such a comprehensive worldview that he thought modern America lacked today and that doomed it to destruction. The current Floyd Hoax riots and ongoing cultural revolution, akin to what France experienced in May 1968, are proof that Auster’s pessimistic prediction for America is finally coming true.
In his posthumously published book, Our Borders, Ourselves, Lawrence Auster doesn’t just describe America’s post-1965 immigration disaster, but roots it in a cultural collapse. He particularly bemoans the loss of the hierarchical social order, Christian heritage and civic virtue that America’s Founders took for granted.
Indeed, Auster presents something of a challenge to immigration patriots who argue that “demographics are destiny.” Instead, Auster argues that current demographics are a consequence of the spiritual collapse of white America. “The most important change in the American people is not in the non-Europeans who are filling our cities,” he writes, “it is in white Americans.”
Early Americans were “tough, independent and morally upright,” but modern whites are weak and soft, “Eloi,” “not fit for a nation-state but for a nanny state.”
This is the National Question expressed in a new form.
It’s shocking how prescient Auster was about our present crisis. It’s the logical consequence of a “conservative movement” that defends liberalism.
“Whether in its nineteenth century, bourgeois form or its contemporary egalitarian form,” Auster contends, “liberalism says that the only permissible restraint on liberty is to prevent harm to others.”
This is precisely what many modern “conservatives” would argue they are defending; just as they are the true “anti-racists,” they are also the true “classical liberals” who are standing up for freedom and individualism.
However, Auster counters that without a “publicly authoritative moral understanding,” individuals have no way to understand their social role. Nations are unable to define, defend, or preserve themselves. Thus, he makes the startling claim that “the grounding of rights in nothing beyond the whim of the individual leads directly to open borders and multiculturalism.”
Because America’s core culture was Anglo-Protestant and it has historically been built by whites, any reminders of America’s past can be held to discriminate against nonwhite “new Americans” who feel excluded, or blacks, who feel oppressed.
Whites who honestly believe in egalitarianism are also compelled to denounce and destroy their own history. If America belongs to everyone, we must destroy all reminders that it once belonged to whites. “Cultural pluralism starts by saying we should be more tolerant of other cultures and ends by advocating the destruction of our culture,” Auster writes.
Auster explains the “liberal guilt complex” by saying that liberals are guilty, but don’t recognize the true source of their guilt. “They are alienated from objective moral values, from their own civilization, and from God,” he asserts. Auster points to the biblical story of Ham, who reveals his father’s shame to the world and is cursed for doing so. By demanding the impossible, and then rebelling when it doesn’t appear, liberals are acting like Ham, dooming their line to destruction by refusing to respect the sources of order and tradition.
“The alienated radical,” Auster explains, “seeking some egalitarian end, violates the norms of society and the laws of nature, which results in profound social disorders, which the radical then blames on the tradition that he himself has damaged, rather than on the fact that he has damaged it.”
For example, he says, America opened the door to mass Third World immigration, but rather than this solving the supposed problem of racism, it simply introduced “all kinds of new ethnic and cultural conflict into America, which the liberals then attributed to whites’ failure to be sufficiently welcoming to immigrants.” Thus, “the hatred against historic white America actually increases the further the non-white revolution advances.”
Despite untold billions spent, official privileges in education and government hiring, and worshipful media coverage, only a small minority of blacks think race relations have improved since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And it’s because America opened its border to nonwhites that once-untouchable American heroes like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee are recast as villains. After all, to the new population, “the historic white America” is “alien and incomprehensible.”
I’d add the same could be said about the way many whites feel about the new America.
It’s Auster’s relentless drive to explain and deconstruct liberalism that makes Our Borders, Ourselves so important. It also provides detailed information about the 1965 Immigration Act, the cultural campaign against whites, and the problems that necessarily arise from multiculturalism.
Of course, as Auster sees it, liberalism could not have led to anything else. Once morality is unmoored from authority, civilization, and tradition, it can only culminate in collective suicide. “If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality,” Auster writes, “then a liberal is a person who sees his way of life being destroyed and concludes that he deserves it.”
We can obviously see this happening now with quivering whites literally getting on their knees before blacks. This includes many white Christians, who show far more fear and trembling towards blacks than the God they supposedly believe in.
Of course, there’s an obvious problem with Auster’s critique. Who decides what will be the source of order and tradition? It’s all very well to appeal to Christianity, but most Christian leaders are not only submitting to the Third World invasion but encouraging it and leading it.
To his credit, Auster does not shy away from this. “[D]efining God and Christ in terms of human rights and equality—these liberal Christians tend to look at every issue through the lens of Social Justice, One-Worldism, and US guilt, and are deeply committed to diversity, multiculturalism, and open borders,” Auster writes.
Besides attacking liberal Protestantism, Auster accuses the Roman Catholic Church (to which he nevertheless converted shortly before his death) of adopting “the very heresy of modernism” it had once condemned, putting “man’s well-being” and the “dignity of man” at the center of the Faith. Instead of recognizing man’s basic sinfulness, it celebrates the “cult of man,” symbolized by the post-Vatican II practice of the priest facing the congregation than the altar when he consecrates the host.
Auster argues that, while there may be conceivable “non-Christian ways of rebuilding a normal sense of peoplehood and racial identity among whites,” it can only really happen through the “rediscovery of the classical and Christian understanding that we Westerners have lost.” He argues that a Western worldview, which he attempts to define, gives us a way to “see reality whole,” placing values into their “natural rank and order” instead of destroying ourselves by trying to make “human values into gods.”
Of course, others like Oswald Spengler have argued Christianity itself inevitably led to the kind of liberalism Auster decries. Tom Holland’s recent book Dominion makes the same case from a more positive perspective. Auster doesn’t really confront this possibility.
Auster says forcefully that the old America is gone, and, worse, now embodies the liberalism that is destroying the West. “Long after America has died a miserable death, that warning [about liberalism’s consequences] will be her final gift to the world,” he writes during his finale.
Aris Roussinos’ recent and widely discussed article which called America a “cautionary tale” echoes this conclusion. Roussinos also argues America’s central flaw is the “civic religion of liberalism,” a product of “18th century liberal ideals, and centered on a sacred set of texts, a constitution and declaration of independence debated with rabbinical exactitude and religious fervor" [Covid has exposed America as a failed state, UnHerd, June 1, 2020].
But Auster would take issue with Roussinos’ implied claim that the flaw was inherent from the Founding. Auster argues the Founding Fathers did understand the dangers of egalitarianism and universalism.
If something called the “United States of America” survives, it will probably be something akin to an “anti-America” built on the repudiation of the old order, just like modern South Africa is built on the repudiation of its predecessor. Whether one agrees the United States of America’s demise was inevitable or not, it’s increasingly hard to argue that it’s not happening.
However, that doesn’t mean that our demise is inevitable or has to happen. As Auster himself writes in the book, we have no choice but to resist.
We should also recall that the polity ruling from what is still called Washington D.C. (not for much longer, given that George Washington was a slaveholder) does not represent the real Historic American Nation. It hasn’t for some time.
Perhaps Auster is right and the phony “America” that is presiding over urban disorder, endless foreign wars, and mass immigration must perish for the real America to live again.
The last thing Lawrence Auster and I ever spoke about was the need for the Republican Party to start going after working class white voters with a populist program. Of course, this was years before Donald Trump. Donald Trump showed such an approach is possible, even if he has not followed through on his promises.
I imagine Auster would have ruthlessly critiqued both his policies and his character, perhaps even more brutally than Ann Coulter. However, I like to think that he would have seen the same potential in 2016 that I did.
The Spirit of ’16 does have a real connection to the Spirit of ‘76. They both represented the inchoate voice of an emerging people proclaiming its right to exist and its willingness to fight.
Our people are still here. They have a voice. And they, and we, won’t go down without a fight.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him |Tweet him @VDAREJamesK] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc. His latest book is Conservatism Inc.: The Battle for the American Right. Read VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow's Preface here.